What is SSL and why does every site need it

In our previous post Google Warns Website Owners to Upgrade to HTTPS, we discussed the changes that Google plans to make to the way it handles websites, their rankings and how people will access these sites through Google Chrome. So just what is SSL and why does every site need it?

This is a question that bothers many online business owners and customers. Basically, SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is a security feature designed for websites and represented by HTTPS and a padlock in the address bar. All sensitive information that include customers’ personal details such as name, physical address, phone numbers and credit card details are securely handled by this feature. In a nut shell, SSL creates a water tight secure link between the online business server and customer’s browser. This security feature ensures that information shared between the customer and the company trading goods and services online does not find its way to a third party.

Why is SSL necessary for every site?

Information encryption

Encryption is a process of coding information with the aim of denying access to unauthorized individuals. By being SSL certified, every sensitive detail submitted online by customers or business associates are coded and secured. It is important to note that information exchanged between the web visitor via the browser and the online company’s server passes through several computers. This makes the contents vulnerable to interception by undesirable third parties.  In order to encrypt the information, SSL adds some unique characters that make the contents illegible to those without a particular encrypt key.

Permits online payments

An online business aims at attracting many customers globally. However, transactions can never be complete without online payments especially via credit cards. Online business owners must comply with the standards set by Payment Card Industry (PCI). To be eligible for online payments, the business site must be SSL certified with a trusted body and have encryption of not less than 128 bit. Payments via credit cards cannot be complete without SSL.

Prevents phishing

Cybercriminals send emails to customers with links to a different site. In most cases, the emails contain messages purporting to confirm shipping details or advertisements. If the link is clicked, the credit card information is collected for malicious use such as fraud. However, this phishing process does not take place if the site has SSL as the information cannot be decoded by the third party.

Enhances customer’s trust

SSL certification enhances customers’ trust in a given online business. This is because individual customers can rest assured that their personal details and more importantly their credit card information are safe using encryption process made possible by SSL.